Chef Sōta Atsumi is a Japanese chef who has been working in Paris for the last twelve years. Sōta started his French experience studying in Lyon at the Estoffier school. There he earned the trust of Chef Troigros, who gave Sōta the chance to do a stage at his restaurant which was a wonderful six month experience.
Sōta then moved to Paris and the restaurant Stellas Maris, near the Champs Élysées, where he studied the basics of French gastronomy under Chef Yoshino for four years. After having spent one year at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Chef Nakayama contacted Sōta to become Sous-Chef of his restaurant Toyo.
In 2012, Pierre Jancou, owner of the restaurant Vivant, proposed that Sōta become Chef and to create his own cuisine at Vivant. During this time Sōta learned to work with biodynamic vegetables, fruits, & meats and structured his cuisine around the philosophy of respect for the products and farmers. Then in 2014, Sota became the Chef of the Clown Bar gastropub in Paris, where he created a strong identity and was identified as Best Bistro in France by Le Fooding, and “The Most Thrilling Restaurant in Paris” by Eater.
Sōta Atsumi is now working on his own solo project in Paris, a natural gastronomic restaurant simply called Maison.
Hitomi Batt: Hi my name is Hitomi Batt. I’m sitting with Sota Atsumi at the Chefs Club. We are going to have a interview with him. Could you tell us a little about yourself in 60 seconds?
Atsumi: At first, I would have never expected to become a chef. I wanted to be a snowboarder until I suffered an injury. A schoolteacher suggested that I attend a school that specializes in a certain field such as cooking, music, fishing, etc. In the end, I chose to go to a French culinary school. This was the beginning of my cooking career. There were opportunities for students to study in France, so I went, and ended up staying there. While I was there I made connections and started working.
Hitomi: How old were you when you gave up snowboarding?
Atsumi: I was 18. It was after I graduated high school.
Hitomi: So right after you graduated high school, you decided to go to culinary school?
Atsumi: Yes, and when I turned 19, I went to France and I’ve been there ever since.
Hitomi: How old are you now?
Hitomi: Where in Japan are you from?
Atsumi: I’m from Chibakenn
Hitomi: I’m from Chibakenn too.
Atsumi: Where in Chibakenn are you from?
Hitomi: I’m from Ichikawa
Atusmi: I’m from Urayasu. I lived right next to the Ichikawa bridge. I went to a middle school right by the river.
Hitomi: Wow, we are neighbors! Do you ever go back to visit?
Atsumi: Yes, I go back every year. Earlier, I was unable to visit my hometown, but now I go back more often, and I’m invited to come or participate in culinary events back in Japan.
Hitomi: What are some benefits that you reap from being a chef? What is your favorite part about being a chef?
Atsumi: At first, when I was just starting, I was so busy that I didn’t have time to do anything else. However, now it’s become more flexible. I get to bring my son to work sometimes and I get to spend time with my family, which I really love.
Hitomi: That’s wonderful. How many kids do you have?
Atsumi: I have a one year old and that’s it.
Hitomi: What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
Atsumi: A very well respected chef was being interviewed about what it means to practice gastronomy in Paris, and he responded that it was all about romance. I’m intending on keeping that in mind as I open my restaurant in Paris.
Hitomi: What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Atsumi: There aren’t very many strange things that come to mind. I’ve eaten ants before as it’s become kind of popular, but I’m not repulsed by many foods.
Hitomi: What is your favorite ingredient?
Atsumi: Eggs. I really like recipes that contain eggs.
Hitomi: What is your favorite kitchen tool? Is there a kitchen tool that you can’t live without?
Atsumi: I’m not very fussy with my tools, I’ll borrow other people’s tools sometimes.
Hitomi: What do you do when you aren’t cooking?
Atsumi: I do a lot of things such as art, going to museums, reading books.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been translated from Japanese.